A final decision on whether to allow a rezone of tax lots on Nyssa’s south side from residential to commercial to provide room for expansion of an existing business now rests with the Nyssa City Council, which conducted a hearing Thursday.
This was the second hearing on the proposal, following one on Feb. 9, at which the council approved the first reading of an ordinance approving the zone change as is required. However, the issue came to the council from the City Planning Commission, which, in its January meeting voted to recommend the zone change be denied.
The tax lots are owned by Marc and Tamara Bybee, who operate Fiesta Farms and they are seeking to change lots, now residential to commercial, to allow them to expand their onion storage and packing facilities. The parcels in question are neighboring lots already zoned commercial.
Acting City Attorney Larry Sullivan said onion handling facilities are allowed in commercial zones as a conditional use and if the zone change is allowed, the Bybee would have to return to the city to find out what conditions they would have to meet to build and operate there.
Much of the testimony in favor of the zone change, and the business, centered on how Nyssa needs more business and Bybee’s planned expansion would bring in additional family wage jobs; that the town is about agriculture.
Wyatt Baum, attorney for Bybees, said the overall plan is in the public interest and compatible with the city’s comprehensive plan.
“It would show that Nyssa is for business,” he said.
Logan Skeen said his family wants to join forces with Bybees at Fiesta Farms, but the process for the proposed expansion held him up, so they went to Ontario.
“I want to see more business come to the area,” Skeen said.
Greg Smith, Malheur County Economic Development Director, also touted the family wage jobs and suggested that new technology could help alleviate some of the concerns.
Cheryl Ziegler, who lives near the parcels, said she was concerned about the potential noise, additional traffic and dust.
“My issue is the location of a packing shed,” Ziegler said. ”We have elderly and children in this neighborhood.”
Teresa Ballard, another resident in the area, said zoning is established for a purpose still believes the lots are viable as residential parcels. She and her husband own four homes in the impact area, she said, and believes expanding onion facilities will significantly reduce property values.
Due to a technical issue, a final decision by the council had to be put off for at least 10 days.